The University of Connecticut chapter of the Campus Antifascist Network (CAN) held a panel Thursday afternoon to address opposing fascism in a college community.
Fifth-semester economics major Marlena Haddad said she attended the event to expand her worldview.
“I wanted to see a different perspective,” Haddad said.
The panel included associate professor Christopher Vials, undergraduate students Nooram Mumtaz and George Morgan, Jr. and graduate employee Bre Leake.
According to their website, CAN is an organization that opposes fascism and has chapters at several universities, including UConn and the University of Florida. Vials, who also authored “Haunted by Hitler: Liberals, the Left, and the Fight Against Fascism in the United States,” said he helped form the chapter at UConn.
“I was involved in the early conversations for the formation of (CAN’s) national body,” Vials said.
The event’s program said fascism is “a strand of right-wing politics distinct from conservatism or libertarianism.”
The program also said the group is not against the right side of the political spectrum but rather extremists who are “animated by a highly symbolic, mythic drive for national renewal.”
“That is what we are here to discuss today,” Morgan said. “The difference between patriotism and fascism because I think somewhere along the lines, those lines got blurred.”
The panel’s discussion covered occurrences in an educational setting related to fascism, such as microaggressions.
“Realistically, it all starts with microaggressions,” Morgan said. “That’s where we should start looking.”
Morgan mentioned various incidents in his life and in the lives of others in which comments, such as racial slurs, were made that represented intrusions of fascism in everyday life at UConn.
At the event, Morgan provided a student’s perspective and Leake presented an educator’s outlook into a modern political setting.
“The current vocal and political climate of the Trump administration raised the stakes for us as scholars and teachers desiring to connect our scholarship and our research to our advocacy,” Leake said.
Vials ended the panel with a call back to the anti-fascist history he studies and spoke of anti-fascist advocates during World War II and the 60s.
“It was a way to connect everything people at that time were fighting against,” Vials said. “Perhaps that is a rubric we can begin to return to.”